Attorney Arthur Saldivar has sent a letter to the Governor of the Central Bank, Joy Grant querying the status of former Senator Stephen Duncan. Duncan was appointed a UDP Senator four years ago while he held the post of Managing Director of Heritage Bank Limited. While Duncan has resigned as Senator on February 11, he retains the post at Heritage Bank. But what Saldivar wants to know is whether the Central Bank had approved Duncan’s Senatorial appointment considering that it was a conflict of interest. Love News got a copy of the letter sent to Governor Grant and spoke with Saldivar who says he is concerned that this may have an effect on Belize’s correspondent banking situation.
Arthur Saldivar, Attorney: “They are only rumors and again it would be irresponsible of me to go down that road without concrete proof of what I would say so in that regard I believe the best people to ask would be the persons to whom this letter has been addressed. The Governor of the Central Bank has a responsibility to the Belizean public to tell us what’s behind that resignation and why it is that this was made to happen for so long. In the absence of a response then what I have heard will have to be followed up and should I come up with anything concrete I will make sure that the public is made aware of it because again we have to safeguard ourselves, our economy, because at the end of the day – man it’s the hardest it’s ever been in Belize right now in terms of accessing foreign capital, in terms of getting loans at reasonable rates in terms of interest rates, it’s a great difficulty for the ordinary Belizean to do these things and it’s unfair. It’s unfair when we have people at the top gaming the system and creating a miserable situation for the public at large.”
When Duncan resigned, the only information the media got from the Government was that his resignation was effective immediately. No explanation was offered as to why the sudden departure from the Senate. Saldivar says he has gotten information on the reason for the resignation but he is awaiting a response from the Central Bank.
Arthur Saldivar, Attorney: “This is the reason why I’m asking the question, this is the reason why I’m writing the letter, we need to know. There is a need for us to know what’s behind the registration. Is it that there is further sanctioning coming our way from international powers because we know what has happened with the derisking, we know what happened to our bank relationships and if we are going to go through that again, the private sector in Belize is going going to suffer immeasurably and the employment situation is going to balloon again. So I just wanted to know if he had gotten official clearance as a politically exposed person to be in the position he was at the bank because the two don’t mesh. Under the domestic Bank and Financial Institutions Act it is the Central Bank’s responsibility to ensure that these kinds of situations don’t happen where politically exposed persons have that kind of authority in a bank. So I was basically taken aback that there was nothing coming from official circles. I’m going to the source, I’m asking the source does she know, is the Central Bank aware what was the reasoning behind Central Bank allowing this to happen or if it did allot it to happen because either way there’s an issue and it has to be addressed because we have been derisked already because of questionable banking dealings and banking practices and to go through that again or to have further sanctions would cripple this economy.”
Reporter: I noticed that in your letter you’re asking him to be removed as well now from Heritage Bank.
Arthur Saldivar, Attorney:“Because this continued service in that capacity imperils the banking sector in Belize. You cannot remove the taint by his resignation, the taint remains. How can anybody trust that he will be impartial now just because he resigned after four years ?”
Stephen Duncan was first appointed as Senator on November 9, 2015.